Monday, March 31, 2008

Attorney fees, Schutze report: $90,129.01 billed to school district

In response to my request pursuant to the California Public Records Act, the attorneys for the Woodland Joint Unified School District have provided costs related to environmental concerns at the district offices.

At issue are the air quality results included in a March 17 Demand Letter from Philip J. Henderson of Miller, Brown, Dannis Attorneys of San Francisco to Dan Logue, who represents his mother Kate Logue - owner of the Cottonwood Plaza where the district offices are located.

The letter from Henderson demanded that Cottonwood Investors "take immediate and decisive action to ensure the health and safety of District employees." On March 21, the legal firm of Scharff, Brady & Vinding representing Cottonwood Investors responded to the allegation of material breach of the lease agreement. The response from Scharff, et. al., refuted the allegations and characterized the environmental survey conducted by Schutze & Associates of Oakland as flawed.

The March 17 Demand Letter arrived just two months after district officials agreed with their landlord's report that the Cottonwood offices were environmentally safe. Since that letter, district superintendent Jacki Cottingim ordered many employees to relocate to another site. It is not known if the Yolo County Health Department or CalOSHA have declared the district offices as unsafe.

Today, in compliance with the public records request, Donald Velez of Miller, Brown, Dannis sent a list of all costs associated with the environmental issue. The costs are not itemized by company (Miller, Brown, Dannis or Schutze & Associates or other firms), but the total billed since June 30, 2007, amounts to $90,129.01. The total paid by the district thus far is $32,166.72. Trustees need to approve amounts in excess of $15,000. One payment of $19,216.89 was made on a March 11, 2008, purchase order.

Scottish Games & Festival return to fairgrounds

The 132nd Anniversary Sacramento Valley Scottish Games & Festival are returning to the Yolo County Fairgrounds, Woodland, on April 26 and 27. Doors open at 9 am, April 26.

This year's entertainment includes:

Wicked Tinkers
Men of Worth
Molly's Revenge

There will be a athletic competitions, dance competitions, a clan tent area and an animal venue. The incredible Hennigan Spinning Frisbee K9's will be performing a show on Saturday and on Sunday. These high flying Border Collies have been seen on "Animal Planet," “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," “Penn & Tellers Sin City Spectacular," and at the “California State Fair." Nola Jones (Performance Dogs in Action) will be demonstrating herding, agility and skits. Last year every one of her shows was standing room only.

Saturday Night Ceilidh: Dinner and entertainment start at 5:30 p.m at the Crown & Thistle Pub and White Heather Stage area. The Ceilidh (Kay-lee), or party, is a family event with a barbecue dinner provided by Ludy’s of Woodland. Join the live entertainment starting at 5 pm featuring all of the weekend entertainers (who will perform until 11). Order advanced tickets for the Ceilidh dinner at $12.00 or purchase at the Caledonian Club tent on Saturday for $15.00, until tickets run out, or look for Advanced Ticket Sales information on the website (click the title of this story).

ADVANCED Ticket Sales (click the title of this story to access the Web site). For more information on Advanced Ticket Sales please call: 916/557-0764 or email
Children, 0 to 10: Free
Youth, 11-17: $3.50 one day, $5.50 two day
Individual, 18-59: $10.50 one day, $15.50 two day
Senior, 60+: $6.50 one day, $10.50 two day
Saturday Night Ceilidh (dinner): $12.00/adult - $5.00/child 11-17 years

EVENT Gate Ticket Prices
Children, 0 to 10: Free
Youth, 11-17: $4.00 one day, $6.00 two day
Individual, 18-59: $12.00 one day, $17.00 two day
Senior, 60+: $8.00 one day, $12.00 two day
Saturday Night Ceilidh (dinner) prices: $15.00/adult - $7.00/child 11–17 years, 10 and under FREE - purchase at the Club Callie Tent on Saturday early.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Studio Artists Gallery features Lacie Carlisle, hosts First Friday opening

For the month of April, Studio Artists Gallery will feature local artist Lacie Carlisle. This will be Carlisle’s third showing of her vibrantly colored, variously themed glass mosaic artwork. The month's theme is "Fractured Impressions – Glass Mosaic."

The opening reception will be held on Friday, April 4, from 6 to 9 pm. The show runs through April 30 and is partially sponsored by the Woodland Art Center. Refreshments will be served.

Mosaic found Carlisle about seven years ago when she was briefly introduced to the art form by a friend. She instantly gravitated towards the idea of creating something new and whole from mere fragments, and to the centered, Zen-like state that working on a piece could bring.

With no formal art training, Carlisle taught herself the details of the craft to develop her own style. She uses stained glass pieces to compose her mosaic designs instead of the more traditional ceramic tile. Her works share a commonality of bold colors and clear crisp lines that render a modern spin on the art of mosaic. The themes of her work include whimsical brightly colored animals, nature inspired designs, mosaic mirrors, and fractured mirror creations, as well as abstract pieces.

Carlisle attends UC Davis and teaches mosaic at the UC Davis Craft Center.

Studio Artists Gallery
1021 Lincoln Avenue, Woodland CA 95695
Information/directions: (530) 662-7485

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Bottom Dwellers announce April performances, release first album

Country Twang Americana, Yolo County Style: The Bottom Dwellers’ unique blend of dark themes, honky tonk and swampy dirt music, have earned them the reputation of being the go to band for REAL country music in Yolo County. The Bottom Dwellers also specialize in the style of Bakersfield favorites like Merle Haggard, Buck Owens and Red Simpson. The Bottom Dwellers are available to play all occasions - public and private - and club venues alike!

Saturday, Apr 26, 2008
Davis Community Access TV and Radio
Comcast Channel 15 and FM 105.1 in Davis
It's a Bottom Dwellers blitz of the narrow-band airwaves! If you have a TV or radio and are in the Davis California area, tune your preferred device into the proper frequency to fill your home or car with two hours of high quality Yolo County honky tonk and Americana twang music.
6:00 PM • All Ages • FREE

Saturday, Apr 26, 2008
The Stag
506 Main Street, Woodland CA 95695
A night of honky tonk with Stars and Garters in Woodland!
9:00 PM • 21 and Over • Entry price to be determined

"Twang Americana" is Bottom Dwellers first album
The debut album by Yolo County's Bottom Dwellers contains over 60 minutes of home brewed country music, spanning the genera's many facets. From Bakersfield style truck drivin' rockers like "Hey California" and "California Roads", to the swampy dirt music of "The Devil", the Bottom Dwellers leave no stone unturned. You can purchase the album at

Click here to sample their music.

Brigadoon now playing at the Woodland Opera House, runs to April 27

The highlands of Scotland come to the Woodland Opera House with Brigadoon the wistful fantasy about two Americans who stumble upon an enchanted village while hunting grouse on the Scottish moors.

The show opens as the mist clears to reveal a quaint village. Tommy Albright (Scott Reese) and Jeff Douglas (Michael Murphy ), the two young New Yorkers, are greeted by villagers dressed in 18th century garb selling their wares and discussing the wedding preparations of Jeannie MacLaren (Laura Franklin) and Charlie Dalrymple (Tim Dunlap).

Tommy quickly finds himself falling in love with Jeannie’s beautiful sister, Fiona (Gina Marchitiello– The Music Man) then learns that the village materializes from the mists of time every 100 years for only a single day. Fiona cannot leave with him or the village is doomed to disappear forever. Tommy must choose between his love for her and his obligation to go home to his fiancée. Meanwhile, Jeff finds himself in a reluctant and comic entanglement with the maid, Meg Brockie (Marcy Goodnow– Once Upon a Mattress). At the end of the day Tommy is unable to commit himself to staying with Fiona in Brigadoon forever and the two men return to New York. Unhappy back home Tommy’s overpowering desire for Fiona and for the peace of Brigadoon cause him to break his engagement and return to Scotland in a desperate search for the village. Through the miracle of her love for him, Fiona and the village reappear, and he joins them forever.

With book and lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner and music by Frederick Loewe the beautiful score includes; Waitin' for My Dearie, I'll Go Home with Bonnie Jean, Come to Me, Bend to Me, Almost Like Being in Love, There But for You Go I, The Heather on the Hill and My Mother's Weddin' Day.

The show is directed by Bob Cooner with choreography by Kevin Little and Eva Sarry.

The production plays March 28 through April 27, Fridays/Saturdays at 7:30 and Sundays at 2:00. There will be one Saturday matinee at 2:00 on April 12.

Main floor tickets are $20-adults, $18-sen./stu., $10-17 and under. Balcony tickets are $10-adults and $5-17 and under. To reserve tickets with MC or Visa call 530-666-9617 or visit our box office at 340 2nd Street, Monday - Friday between 10 AM and 5 PM.

Blue Wing Gallery hosts First Friday opening

Blue Wing Gallery will feature artists Claire Haag and Suzie Valdow next month. The First Friday artist reception is April 4, 2008, from 6 to 9 pm. The show is called "2 Points of View" and runs from April 4 to April 26. Admission is free and refreshments will be served.

Blue Wing Gallery hosts openings each month as part of the First Friday event that also includes the Studio Artists Gallery (sponsored by the Woodland Art Center) and Gallery 625 (sponsored by the Yolo County Arts Council).

Dingle School presents art auction

You're invited to the Second Annual C.E. Dingle Elementary School Art Auction, featuring the work of students and local artists. Every dollar raised will be matched by the Buck Foundation through the Woodland Art Center. The match is 50 cents to the dollar. All proceeds benefit the Dingle Visual and Performing Arts Program.

Friday, April 25, 7 to 9 pm
Dingle Elementary, 625 Elm Street, Woodland
Dessert and beverage reception
Ticket prices: $15 each, $25 for two, $100 for a table of eight

Please call the Dingle Visual and Performing Arts Program at (530) 207-9267 for more information and to receive a copy of the ticket order form.

Event sponsored by The Frank H. and Eva B. Buck Foundation, Woodland Art Center, Teichert Foundation and the Dingle PTA.

The mission of the Buck Foundation is to support education in all of its aspects. They achieve this through the Frank H. Buck Scholarship program which provides full scholarship support to students chosen from the six counties that were the congressional district served by Frank H. Buck in the 72nd through 76th United States Congresses (1932-42). They also provide grant support to educational institutions, libraries and other nonprofit organizations in support of our educational goals. Click the title of this story to access The Foundation's Web site.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Yolo County Arts Council presents Artistic Sensations

The Yolo County Arts Council presents its Fourth Artistic Sensations, featuring the best of Yolo County art, food, wine and guest artist David Hollowell. Also making an appearance is “It’s about Time” Swing Band. Proceeds from the event will benefit the Yolo County Arts Council’s programming for students and artists.

Saturday, April 26th, 2008, 6:30 p.m. until 8:30 p.m.
Civic Center Galleria, 1110 West Capitol Avenue, West Sacramento
Ticket Prices: $50.00 per person, payment by credit card may be made online at (click the title of this story to access)
Questions? Call YCAC at 530-406-4844.

City planning for public art: Left hand, right hand

Occasionally the Woodland Art Center gets a report on the five year-old Public Art Ordinance draft that includes the framework of a public art program. The purpose of the ordinance is to provide a professional, organized and consistent method to provide public art with a public process. Public art programs are common for cities the size of Woodland as a way to mitigate development. Theoretically, development projects would be subject to a standardized fee and public process to install a work (or works) of art on site or in other areas in town.

The art center submitted a proposal for a public art ordinance in December, 2002, in response to the concerns expressed by city council over the arbitrary selection of the sculpture installed near the Bel Air supermarket. In a nutshell, the city council accepted the proposal, the planning commission created a subcommittee, the draft went back to the council and finally it landed in the hands of planning staff.

The last planning project spreadsheet available at is for September, 2007. It includes the status of the Art in Public Places Ordinance, stating: "Working with city attorney office and local members of the Woodland Art center on developing a draft ordinance. Draft ordinance in development. Will come back for PC and CC review. On hold, until available staff to review."

Planner "Right Hand" is assigned to it.

Last month, the word was that the city council subcommittee had passed the latest version on to the city manager... who, in turn, is considering the staffing of such an ordinance and program. The staffing requirements and the Public Art Commission composition are already outlined in the draft.

Last week, when I was digging into the proposed downtown parking standards, I stumbled upon an item in the February 21, 2007, Planning Commission Agenda. Under Old Business, it lists item 10: "Woodland Healthcare Public Art. The applicant is requesting approval for proposed public art in conjunction with an approved Conditional Use Permit Modification to construct a 58,000 square foot medical office building. Subject site (APN 065-120-52, 53 & 54) is located across the street from 1325 Cottonwood Street."

Planner "Left Hand" is assigned to it.

This is revealing on different levels. First of all, "Left Hand" is implementing an arbitrary, individual standard for art while "Right Hand" has yet to complete the task of finalizing a fair, public standard for art.

Secondly, "Left Hand" is known for providing moving targets disguised as mitigating requirements to frustrated developers, while "Right Hand" is known for stalling projects with circuitous, off-target processes. In other words, "Left Hand" imposes a sliding scale of developer fees while "Right Hand" imposes a sliding scale of policy processes.

Lastly, "Left Hand" has individually negotiated some sort of artwork with Woodland Healthcare without an ordinance, unbeknownst to council and without a commission who is experienced and knowledgeable about public art.

The bottom line is this: The city should not be requiring developers to pay arbitrary fees for arbitrary projects. When a developer (or business owner) comes to town, they should have a complete and clear checklist for all processes and fees.

Click the title of this story to access planning commission agendas. You won't find the minutes of those meetings.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Woodland Community Band plays tonight at PHS

The Woodland Community Band will play a free symphonic concert tonight (Thursday, March 27) at the Pioneer High School Theater at 7 p.m.

The WCB spring concert will include music by Tchaikovsky, Shostakovich, Rimsky-Korsakov, Strauss, Kalinnikov, Saint-Saens, and Mozart.

The band is under the direction of Bobby Rogers, Music Director at Pioneer High School. In a Daily Democrat article (click the title of this story to access) Rogers said, "With weekly rehearsals and a full concert schedule, the band has advanced so much as an ensemble that we are ready to tackle pieces played by college and professional levels of orchestras and concert bands."

WCB band members include a broad age group including middle school students to retired residents and musicians from Davis, Woodland, Dixon, Winters, Esparto, Yuba City and Sacramento.

Rogers invites others to join in. They practice on Tuesday nights from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Pioneer High School Band room. Call Rogers at 406-1148, ext. 4523, for more information.

WCB will perform again on May 22 at PHS with the River City Community Band conducted by Woodlander Tom Seaton.

Tokyo: Rookie of Year Dustin leads off new season for champs

Dustin Pedroia of Woodland has assumed the lead-off hitting spot for the World Champion Boston Red Sox. The 2007 Rookie of the Year collected two hits in four official at-bats in yesterday's MLB opener against the Oakland Athletics. Second Baseman Dustin and his visiting team played a two-game set in Tokyo to begin the 2008 season. The Sox won a tight first game and this morning the A's came out on top behind the strong pitching of Rich Harden.

First game: Red Sox 6, A's 5
Second game: Red Sox 1, A's 5

The teams fly back to the United States today to wrap up their pre-season play over the week-end. Click the title of this story to access Dustin's Player File at Please note the return of the original Pedroia Watch under "Links for Woodlanders in touch."

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Ferns Park: Teens spit on toddler, attack mother, arrested

The following is taken from a report written by C. Johnson of - click the title of this story to access:

The incident began when a 22 year-old mother, Veronica Mendieta, noticed her two year-old son had not reappeared from the two-story slide playhouse at John Ferns Park. When the child finally emerged from the bottom of the slide tube, his face was covered in spit.

According to spokesman Dan Letamendi, the mother saw three teenagers - a girl and two boys - laughing at the top of the structure. Mendieta approached the teens to chastise them, then the girl became verbally aggressive to the mother, spit in her face and began to push, kick and bite her, knocking her to the ground. The boys then joined the attack, also kicking the downed woman. After the assault, the teenagers ran off on Ashley Avenue.

Mendieta was treated for pain and bruises at Woodland Memorial Hospital and released. Her son was not hurt, and was distracted from the attack by an unidentified Spanish-speaking woman. According to the televised report, other witnesses just looked on.

Police want to talk to anyone who saw the incident which took place at 7 p.m. at John Ferns Park at 750 W. Southwood Drive. The Woodland Police Department number is (530) 661-7800.


The WPD press release as posted Wednesday on this blog at 4:42 pm by JM:

Woodland P.D. Case Number: 08-2192

Three juveniles were arrested today at approximately 2:00pm for their involvement in Monday’s assault of a young mother and her two year old son at Ferns Park. During that assault the two year old was spit upon and after his mother contacted the suspects, she was spit on, knocked to the ground, kicked several times including a kick to the face, and bitten.

Detectives arrested the three fourteen year old Woodland residents on charges of assault with a deadly weapon, child endangerment and battery. The arrests stem from an early morning phone call from a concerned citizen, which led to the tentative identification of one suspect and subsequent identification of the others.

Although arrests have been made, the investigation is ongoing and Detectives are still interested in talking with other witnesses.

Downtowner Survey distributed, input for Downtown Specific Plan revisions sought

500 Downtowner Surveys are to be distributed this week to business and property owners in the Historic Downtown Woodland area. Additionally, emails will go out to various lists and individuals so that Downtowners may have a voice in the upcoming Downtown Strategic Plan revisions considered by the Woodland City Council.

On December 6, The Woodland Journal posted a story about some ideas to consider for the new plan. At that time, 45 comments were published. Click the title of this story to access that post. During the last couple of months, those ideas and others were revised and compiled into a survey. Click here for a PDF of the survey.

The diagram at left includes some ideas included in the survey that are intended as starting points for gathering more ideas. Highlighted on the diagram are:

• Designate a Government Center on Court (a potential city identifier)
• Create a one-way Government Center throughway on Court
• Replace some traffic lights with three or four-way stop signs on Main
• Create diagonal parking on Main
• Designate a State Theatre Complex (cineplex, parking and Old Downtown entrance)
• Designate a specialty mall (or hotel) site with the proposed court parking structure

Other ideas in the survey include:

• Encourage the use of alleys and cross streets along Main
• Slow down traffic on Main
• Make Court AND Main one-way streets
• Encourage a variety of store signs with no fees for A-Frames
• Extend the newer street lighting on Main to East
• Encourage festive banners and more trees
• Enable merchants to make facade improvements

Downtown merchants, property owners and stake holders are asked to complete the survey by April 7 and return them according to the information provided on the document. The survey is sponsored by The Woodland Journal and Marco Brando, a downtown marketing group. Download the survey by clicking here.

Monday, March 24, 2008

For sale or lease: City Center Lofts, commercial and living units

The City Center Lofts project at 333 Main Street, between Walnut and Elm, is officially selling and leasing commercial and residential units. Offered are parts of a 2.6 acre development in two separate buildings. Sheffield Real Estate lists 77,320 sq. ft., including 32,069 sq. ft. of retail space, 27,066 sq. ft. of live-work space, and 18,185 sq. ft. of office space.

Sale prices range from $200/sq. ft. (shell) to $330/sq. ft. (fully finished, including bathroom and kitchen). Lease rates range from $1.75/sq. ft. (finished, including plumbing, utility panel, heating and air conditioning) to $2.25/sq. ft. (including bathroom and kitchen).

The project includes a parking facility and a retail courtyard in Dead Cat Alley, although city staff have yet to release information on public access to parking or an explanation of the proposed abandonment of the alley. In November, the city council passed the Dead Cat Alley Proclamation that resolved the alley should remain accessible as a continuous passage from Cleveland Street to Freeman Park, for future citizens, merchants, and tourists.

The expected completion date of City Center Lofts is January, 2010.

New parking standards precede Downtown Specific Plan, include in-lieu fee

Last month I posted a story called "Does $5,000 in-lieu parking fee meet CA Mitigation Fee Act?" The post preceded a city council meeting during which they discussed adding new parking standards, including the in-lieu fee.

The California Mitigation Fee Act states that in any action imposing a fee as a condition of approval of a development project by a local agency, the local agency shall determine how there is a reasonable relationship between the amount of the fee and the cost of the public facility or portion of the public facility attributable to the development on which the fee is imposed.

At that time, council member Jeff Monroe reported on the meeting, "Nothing was decided last night. There are concerns with the in-lieu fee. Some of the questions: Why this amount? What is the goal here? How much do you hope to raise? Is it fair to all concerned? The in-lieu fee is only applicable if a business expands more than 10% or if it is a new business. Large businesses (like a theatre) have to provide parking. Staff believes this is an incentive because it allows new business to contribute but it is not a back breaker fee that will discourage investment. Lots of unanswered questions."

Earlier this month, the Daily Democrat reported on the same issue in an article called "City parking situation mulled by planning staff." Here are some excerpts from the story:

"...the city is considering establishing rules for new developments regarding parking. In some cases, developers or owners who decide to construct an expansion or addition to an existing building could pay a certain fee amount instead of creating new parking spaces."

"A few participants at the public hearing were worried that developers might simply choose to pay the "in-lieu fees" at a cost-savings to their company, rather than construct parking."

"But [city staff planner Cindy] Norris said in-lieu fees would only be applicable if an evaluation by city planners shows specific findings, including at least one of the following: physical constraints make the creation of parking is infeasible, creating parking would be detrimental to the pedestrian nature of the area, the proposed use does not require on-site parking, encouraging people to walk would be beneficial to the area, and existing and planned parking supply in the vicinity is adequate."

"The option for developers to pay in-lieu fees would allow the city to recover some costs that would assist in creating public parking and also encourage more development, Norris said."

Apparently, staff is still sold on the arbitrary in-lieu fees and city council is ready to hold a public hearing on the matter - on April Fool's Day to be exact. I found the notice on The notice and the planning documents are not available at For that matter, city council meeting minutes have not been available since the September 4, 2007.

I have two questions:

Why is this ordinance coming before the Downtown Specific Plan revisions that are scheduled for this year?

And once again... what is the cost of the parking structure for which these fees will be collected?

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Pysanky: Ukrainian Easter Eggs

I first learned of Pysanky while doing some research on Andy Warhol, the Pop Artist who claimed his early art work was partially influenced by the Ukrainian decorated eggs. For this fine Easter Day, I was fortunate to stumble upon the Web site of Georgia Sawhook, a mother of seven and the grandmother of 13. She's been a pastor's wife for over 30 years. She states, "I now have this page available with many tips and ideas and links... I hope you find it interesting and, indeed, a very beautiful ancient art."

Click the title of this story to access her site. Here are some excerpts:

The art of making these eggs goes back many years.. but approximately the year 988 A.D. is when the Ukrainians accepted Christianity, and that's when the egg's symbols took on different meanings. According to Ukrainian legend, people decorated eggs believing that great powers were embodied in the egg. To them, eggs symbolized the release of the earth from the shackles of winter and the coming of spring with its promises of new hope, new life and prosperity, and that as long as pysanky were decorated, goodness would prevail over evil throughout the world.

Many ancient Ukrainians believed the eggs possessed magical powers and that wealth could be obtained by decorating the eggs with certain symbols. When Christianity was introduced into the Ukraine, the symbols changed and others were added to reflect Christianity, the Resurrection and a promise of eternal life.

Making pysanky became a Lenten ritual in Ukraine. A family produced many eggs during this time to be shared with friends and family and the local priest. Some were planted or placed in the fields or feeding troughs to insure a wealth or abundance in their crops and livelihood. Some were placed by the family graves or placed in the coffins out of respect for their loved one. Others were kept in the home for protection. And then, some were presented to young men as signs of affection.

It seems that the women of the house were to make all these eggs during Lent. They even had secret recipes for their own special dyes in the villages. These were always handed down from mother to daughter.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

District's landlord responds to material breach allegations

The following legal response is from Scharff, Brady & Vinding, a Sacramento law firm representing Cottonwood Investors, Inc:

March 21, 2008

Philip Henderson
Miller, Brown, Dannis, Attorneys
71 Stevenson Street, 19th Floor
San Francisco, CA 94105

Re: Woodland Joint Unified School District’s Notice of Material Breach, Cottonwood Investors, Inc.

Dear Mr. Henderson:

Scharff, Brady & Vinding (“SBV”) represents Cottonwood Investors, Inc. (“CWI”). SBV is in receipt of your March 17, 2008, letter regarding a purported material breach by CWI of the lease of the building at 626, 628 and 630 Cottonwood Street, Woodland, California (“Lease”). This letter constitutes CWI’s initial response to the allegation of material breach. CWI will provide a full response in 7 days, after SBV has had the opportunity to conduct a detailed review of the Lease provisions you cited.

This response provides, as you requested, a Health Risk Assessment of the indoor building air at 628 Cottonwood Street, Woodland, California, conducted on March 20, 2008, by Western Geo-Engineers. (Exhibit A)

This response does not include records of maintenance, repair or replacement of air and heating systems at the District Office at 626, 628 and 630 Cottonwood Street (“Building”). Maintenance of these systems is the responsibility of the tenant, Woodland Joint Unified School District (“WJUSD”). Therefore, WJUSD, not CWI, has the requested maintenance records.

Nor does this response include copies of test reports conducted from 1998 to the present. WJUSD has copies of the vapor sampling conducted by Western Geo-Engineers on June 14, 2000. Other than that testing, all vapor sampling conducted at the Building was done by testers hired by WJUSD. WJUSD should have records of those samplings. Records of that testing is also listed in the inside air portion of the Quarterly Reports and is reproduced in the attached Health Risk Assessment.

As regards WJUSD’s allegation of material breach based on the habitability of the Building, no such breach exists. The findings of the Indoor Air Quality Survey conducted by Schutze and Associates (“Schutze”), at the behest of WJUSD, do not indicate otherwise.

Schutze’s survey found PCE levels of 2.7 ug/m3 in Unit 628. This result is, contrary to WJUSD’s characterization, completely unsurprising. Tetrachloroethene (“PCE”) is found in virtually all residential and workplace environments. In fact, a joint study conducted by the EPA and the California Air Resources Board (“ARB”) found that the mean 24-average residential air PCE concentrations in California range between 2.27 to 6.72 ug/m3. (See, Exhibit B) Thus, the 2.7 ug/m3 in Building 628 is within the normal expected range. Furthermore, this normal concentration of PCE occurred without the presence of carbon filters on the ventilation system.

In addition, Schutze’s survey is flawed because it uses the Regional Water Quality Control Board’s (“RWQCB”) established Environmental Screening Levels (“ESL”) incorrectly. ESLs are merely a threshold level at which the RWQCB requires that a Health Risk Assessment be conducted. ESLs are not the levels at which a per se health risk is present.

As the air in the Building is at, or below, levels considered normal for a building without a known external source of PCE, WJUSD’s demand for monthly testing is unreasonable. CWI is not responsible for maintaining the Building’s air at PCE levels less than the level that is normal for uncontaminated buildings. Moreover, the Benzene and Toulene levels detected by Schutze’s survey indicate that active transfer of chemicals from WJUSD employees’ clothing is occurring. CWI has no control over whether WJUSD employees wear clothing that has been dry cleaned using PCE. CWI also has no control over WJUSD employees’ use degreasers or other products that contain PCE.

In conclusion, CWI does not believe a material breach of the Lease has occurred. However, CWI is investigating the allegations made by WJUSD and will respond fully within 7 days. If CWI’s investigation concludes, as suspected, there has been no material breach, CWI will vigorously defend itself. Further, CWI will further hold WJUSD in breach if WJUSD takes any action in violation of the Lease.

Common Sense v. Judge Lebov

Last week I was in court for a restitution hearing for two of the three juveniles who stole and damaged Woodland Art Center's Dead Cat Alley cat sculptures. One sculpture, the "Blue Cat," was stolen in November 2006. The other sculpture, the "Tiger," was left broken at the crime scene. The restitution includes the cost of repairs to the "Tiger," the cost of repairs to the roof that was damaged when the "Tiger" was pulled up, and the cost of my time from work to appear as a victim.

Since I had previously provided an invoice and an estimate, the subpoena for me to testify was an added inconvenience. Because of this, I asked the Deputy District Attorney if I was to be reimbursed for the leave I had to take from work. She emailed me: "Victims who must take time away from work as a result of testifying as a witness or assisting the police or the prosecution are entitled to restitution for their economic losses. The statute specifically includes not only time spent as a witness, but also the time the victim assisted the prosecution. When a victim loses time from work to meet with the police or prosecution for purposes of witness preparation, viewing the crime scene, gathering documetnation, or even attending a restitution hearing, such time may be compensated. Victims should be advised to keep a record of their time off from work for these purposes."

I found the statute (or at least one of the statutes) online:

Penal Code Section 1202.4 - (a)(1) It is the intent of the Legislature that a victim of crime who incurs any economic loss as a result of the commission of a crime shall receive restitution directly from any defendant convicted of that crime.

(3) To the extent possible, the restitution order shall be prepared by the sentencing court, shall identify each victim and each loss to which it pertains, and shall be of a dollar amount that is sufficient to fully reimburse the victim or victims for every determined economic loss incurred as the result of the defendant's criminal conduct, including, but not limited to, all of the following:

(E) Wages or profits lost by the victim, and if the victim is a minor, wages or profits lost by the minor's parent, parents, guardian, or guardians, due to time spent as a witness or in assisting the police or prosecution. Lost wages shall include any commission income as well as any base wages. Commission income shall be established by evidence of commission income during the 12- month period prior to the date of the crime for which restitution is being ordered, unless good cause for a shorter time period is shown.

It would appear that justice could, indeed, be served. Unless, of course, the judge was William Lebov. As the Deputy District Attorney submitted the invoice for sculpture repairs, the estimate for the roof repairs and my bill for lost wages, Judge Lebov said that I wouldn't be reimbursed for my time.

I asked, "Why not."

He said, "It's not for me to ask."

Actually, it is. At least according to one source I found: "The defendant has a right to a hearing with regards to restitution. Any objections in most instances must be raised at the time of the hearing or appeal is waived." From a "Restitution in Criminal Cases - A Victim's Perspective," by Martin H. Plone, D.V.M.

Judge Lebov also said it was the policy of the court that victims can't claim lost wages. So far, I have not seen this policy despite my request for such. I did not see it on the county Web site, either.

I thought perhaps the "policy" might have something to do with juvenile law... so I found "Juvenile Restitution Orders" at the Victim Compensation and Government Claims Board Web site:

It is the intent of the Legislature that a victim of conduct for which a minor is found to be a person described in Welfare and Institutions Code section 602 who incurs any economic loss as a result of the minor’s conduct shall receive restitution directly from that minor.(Welf. & Inst. Code §730.6(a)(1)) The court SHALL order full restitution unless it finds compelling and extraordinary reasons for not doing so and states those reasons on the record. (Welf. & Inst. Code §730.6(h))

Restitution shall be to fully reimburse the victim(s) for all determined economic losses including all of the following:

Full or partial payment for the value of stolen or damaged property; medical expenses; wage or profits lost due to injury, caring for a minor victim, time spent as a witness or in assisting the police or prosecution by the victim, or if the victim is a minor, the minor’s parents or guardians. (Welf. & Inst. Code §730.6(h)(1)-(4)).

So it seems that the law says I should receive restitution for my lost wages, if not common sense. Admittedly, the restitution doesn't amount to much - but common sense would also dictate that the juveniles need to realize the full extent of their actions. They need to realize the value of private property and the value of people's time. The judge failed to convey this to the minors. I don't expect the parents to step in and do what's right, either.

And what is the value of this story? Probably not much if this was just one incidence of judicial failure. A friend of mine recently won a real estate case after paying over $200,000 in attorney's fees. The problem there - despite the decision in his favor, another county judge (Judge Basha) did not make the losing plaintiff pay those fees. I guess I got off easy - and that's a sad statement for victim's rights.

Friday, March 21, 2008

District finds Bay Area firms to dispute air quality report

Two months after district officials agreed with their landlord's report that the Cottonwood offices were environmentally safe, they have found a San Francisco attorney and an Oakland consultant to dispute the findings.

Cottonwood Investors' Dan Logue, the landlord, learned of the new air quality results through a Demand Letter from Philip J. Henderson of Miller, Brown, Dannis Attorneys of San Francisco. Representing the Woodland Joint Unified School District, Henderson demanded that Cottonwood Investors "take immediate and decisive action to ensure the health and safety of District employees." The March 17 letter listed several actions to be taken within five days of the receipt of the certified mail.

Henderson wants all air and heating maintenance records and air test reports in addition to immediate servicing of the ventilation system and a follow-up air test. He also wants a complete health risk assessment within 14 days. At the core of the issue is Building 628, the office space on the site of a former dry-cleaning business.

Miller, Brown, Dannis Attorneys specialize in education law, boasting expertise in construction and litigation (among other education services). Click the title of this story to access The law firm hired Schutze & Associates of Oakland, an environmental consulting business. Geologist Jan Schutze performed the services.

In his March 9 report to Henderson, Mr. Schutze wrote, "It is the understanding of Schutze & Associates, Inc. that the WJUSD is considering the extension of the current or the potential acquisition of this shopping center as a base for their operations."

On May 23, 2007, district superintendent Jacki Cottingim directed a Letter of Intent and negotiations to purchase the Blue Shield building at 635 Sixth Street. On July 12, 2007, Cottingim directed the initiation of the financing process with Government Financial Strategies, Inc. (GFSI), to purchase the Blue Shield building. On September 27, 2007, the district board of trustees were updated on the Blue Shield negotiations. On October 6, 2007, the superintendent emailed the trustees indicating the Blue Shield purchase agreement was near completion. On October 16, 2007, architects were hired by the district to begin space planning for Blue Shield building. On October 17, 2007, the superintendent signed the final draft of the Blue Shield purchase agreement. On December 13, 2007, the trustees approved the purchase agreement for the Blue Shield building in a 4 to 3 vote. On March 10, 2008, the trustees approved a revised lease-purchase arrangement to acquire the Blue Shield building in a 4 to 2 vote.

The Schutze report found excessive Environmental Screening Levels (ESLs) of tetrachloroethene (PCE), benzene and carbon tetrachloride according to the Regional Water Quality Control Board (RWQCB) in four indoor air samples and one ambient air sample. The report also cited previous air quality reports by Western Geo Engineers in June, 2000, (less than risk levels), Atlantic Pacific Environmental in December, 2000, (resulting in carbon filter installation), and again by Western Geo Engineers in July, 2001 (PCE was below detection levels). Schutze reported that, "Based on the results of the agency review file, no further indoor air testing has been performed."

Apparently, the district did not provide Schutze with the satisfactory air quality reports they agreed to in the January 24, 2008, board meeting when the Blue Shield purchase process and timeline was revealed.

According to Logue, "The report is a joke. The only contamination is from their [employee's] cloths and machines. Our report shows no problem whatsoever. And it is also the district's responsibility to maintain the filter system. This is a deliberate set-up."

It is not known if the district has contacted the Yolo County Health Department or CalOSHA to confirm the claims of Henderson and Schutze.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

20th Stroll grows to two days, volunteers sought

In 2008 Woodland¹s Stroll through History will celebrate TWENTY years of celebrating Woodland¹s architectural heritage. What began as a simple walking tour in 1988, has grown to be a regionally recognized event that thousands of people, young and old, look forward to each year.

Due to popular demand, this year the Stroll has been expanded to a two day event to be held September 6th and 7th. Saturday the 6th will focus on downtown with lots of free family-friendly activities.

Sunday will be dedicated to the open house tours which will feature not just historic homes, but homes from every generation - from 1870¹s to today. And it will cover all of Woodland's neighborhoods - from Beamer Park to Faria Park , from First Street to Springlake.

If you are interested in participating in this Woodland tradition, we are looking for volunteers. For additional information please call Chris Campbell at 662-62998. Join us in making 2008 the best Stroll in history!

Note: My apologies to Chris and the committee - I inadvertently missed announcing your Tuesday night meeting by delaying this notice. Click the title of this story to access the Woodland Stroll Through History Web site. I've also included the Stroll in "Links for Woodlanders in touch" at the right of this blog.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Candidate Monroe releases ballot statement

The following is the ballot statement from Woodland City Council candidate Jeff Monroe:

Jeff Monroe
Occupation: Lieutenant, Yolo County Sheriff's Department

Today, people are busy enough holding down a job, making sure kids get their homework done, and paying their bills. What’s needed is representation that reflects your needs, concerns and priorities. Woodland is changing, but it’s your voice that matters most in how we manage change.

Though I have a lifelong perspective of Woodland, I consistently ask opinions from others on things like serving youth in our community, public safety, commerce, housing, health care, and how to maintain civic balance.

As an Army Veteran and as a Sheriff’s Lieutenant for 22 years, I’ve traveled the world, experienced other cultures and helped many Woodlanders through difficult situations. Being on the City Council is a natural extension of my public service and when people call me with a problem, I am honored to be able to help them.

I’m active in social, cultural and volunteer groups and enjoy time with elderly veterans in convalescent homes. I’m a graduate of the F.B.I. National Academy and have a Bachelor’s degree in Business Management. My wife and I have two children in public school in Woodland.

I ask for your vote to remain your humble servant. Learn more at

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Which is best? Time changes perception for trustees

My little quiz, disguised as a double poll, only generated a total of 51 answers. The questions, followed by the correct answers, were:

December 13, 2007, which is best - lease or purchase? Four of the WJUSD trustees thought purchasing the Blue Shield building was best.

March 10, 2008, which is best - lease, purchase or all of the above? Of course, it was on this date that the four WJUSD trustees changed their mind about the building and decided it was best to lease-purchase (all of the above).

Time certainly changes perceptions, doesn't it? Even if it's a matter of minutes.

Case in point: WJUSD Board meeting minutes of February 28, 2008

At the beginning of the Open Session, "The Board President announced that no action was taken during Closed Session. Trustee Berg asked that the minutes reflect that the Board gave direction during Closed Session."

Action-direction, closed-open, lease-purchase. What's the diff?

To access the most recent minutes available - that's right folks, the 2/28 minutes are as up-to-date as they get at - just click the title of this story. Much better than Woodland City Council minutes, however, which were last posted for the September 4, 2007 meeting.

Dustin Pedroia Field to be named tonight: Follows $20,000 gift to Little League from MLB

Dustin Pedroia Field will be the new name of Camarena Field #2 if the Woodland City Council honors the request of Woodland Little League. The request was made by the local organization in recognition of Dustins' Rookie of the Year award and the $20,000 donation made by Major League Baseball to the charity of his choice - Woodland Little League. City staff recommends as such in tonight's meeting (March 18, 2008).

Here are excerpts from the staff report:

The Executive Board of Woodland Little League has submitted a proposal to the City of Woodland to change the name of Camarena II baseball field to Dustin Pedroia Field. This request was submitted by the Little League in recognition of Mr. Pedroia being named Rookie of the Year for the American League and the associated donation of $20,000 by Major League Baseball to Woodland Little League as the charity of Mr. Pedroia’s choice. Because of the donation and the community recognition generated by Mr. Pedroia’s accomplishments, Woodland Little League believes the request to rename the field is appropriate.

This request was reviewed and approved by the Park & Recreation Commission in December 2007. In the course of considering this request, staff has talked with a representative of the Camarena Family and they are in support of renaming the field in honor of Mr. Pedroia.

Mr. Pedroia started playing Little League in the City of Woodland in 1990. His Little League career included:

• 1990 Single “A” player
• 1991 Double “AA” player
• 1992 Triple “AAA” player
• 1993-1995 Majors
• 1993-1995 Majors All Stars
• 1996 Junior Little League
• 1997 Senior League

Mr. Pedroia was born in Sacramento and in 2001 graduated from Woodland High School. Mr. Pedroia was a 3-time Delta League Selection, hitting .445 with 18 doubles and 5 homers in his senior year to capture league MVP honors.

Mr. Pedroia attended Arizona State University (ASU), where he continued his baseball career and was one of 5 finalists for the 2004 Golden Spikes Award. At ASU, Mr. Pedroia was a 3-time First-Team All-Pac 10 selection, the 2003 Pac-10 co-Player of the Year and the 2003 National Defensive Player of the Year. Mr. Pedroia’s offensive and defensive statistics at ASU included hitting .384 with 212 runs, 71 doubles, 14 homers, and 146 RBI in 3 seasons; a .466 on-base percentage; a .544 slugging percentage; and a .972 fielding percentage. He played in all 185 Sun Devils games over his 3 seasons at ASU.

In the 2007 season as a member of the Boston Red Sox, Mr. Pedroia enjoyed one of the finest seasons by a Red Sox rookie in the last 50 years. He led all major league rookies with a .317 batting average, 10th best overall in the American League and a major league record for a rookie 2nd baseman. He placed 2nd on the Red Sox in runs (86) and doubles (39), ranked 3rd in average and hits (165), and 4th in on-base percentage (.381). He started 132 games at 2nd base, the most for a Boston rookie at that position in 40 years.

Mr. Pedroia’s accomplishments as a Major League Baseball Player generated recognition for the Woodland community, especially Woodland Little League and Woodland High School. The donation of $20,000 in his honor and his selection of Woodland Little League as the recipient to support a program that serves over 300 youth annually merits favorable consideration of the Little League Executive Board’s request.

The $20,000 donation will provide improvements to a youth baseball field within a City park. These improvements will support existing City resources required to maintain the park.

Pedroia one of 18 Red Sox players to settle on 2008 contract

In a story by MLB writer Maureen Mullen, second baseman Dustin Pedroia was among the 18 Red Sox players who have agreed to terms on one-year contracts for the 2008 season.

Also agreeing to terms were pitchers David Aardsma, Craig Breslow, Clay Buchholz, Bryan Corey, Manny Delcarmen, Devern Hansack, Kyle Jackson, Jon Lester, Edgar Martinez, Jonathan Papelbon and David Pauley; catchers Dusty Brown and George Kottaras; infielders Chris Carter and Argenis Diaz; and outfielders Jacoby Ellsbury and Brandon Moss.

With the agreements, the team was able to avoid unilaterally renewing any of the players, all of whom were ineligible for arbitration. Click the title of this story to access the article.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Woodland to host 150-bed re-entry prison

"Woodland in line for 're-entry' prison... Resulting influx of state funds would help Yolo with its jail expansion" reads the headlines in today's Sacramento Bee article written by Andy Furillo. Here are some excerpts from the report that can be accessed by clicking the title of this story:

Undersheriff Tom Lopez confirmed Friday that Yolo County has agreed to host a 150-bed re-entry facility for prisoners in the final months of their sentences at its jail campus on Gibson Road in Woodland.

Lopez said, "We're prepared to start breaking ground almost immediately" on both the re-entry prison and a 148-bed expansion on the jail.

Under the re-entry plan, inmates in the final few months of their term – no matter their offense – would be shuttled to mini-prisons in or near their hometowns. AB 900 calls for shifting a total of 16,000 prisoners to the re-entry facilities, most of which will house 500 offenders.

In Yolo County, Undersheriff Lopez said his agency is expecting "mixed reviews" from residents of surrounding Woodland and elsewhere about putting more inmates in their midst. He said he thinks "they'll understand" when they learn how re-entry might correct the returning offenders' bad habits.

"We feel it's better to give the inmate some tools, on helping them readapt to coming back into our communities, instead of just giving them a bus ticket and a couple hundred dollars and sending them on their way," Lopez said.

Sacramento County, which once had expressed interest in a re-entry prison, is no longer keen on the idea, Sheriff John McGinness said Friday.

Woodland, Wes'Sac home to most sex offenders in county

A quick look at Yolo County on the Megan's Law Web site would reveal that Woodland and West Sacramento each have far more registered sex offenders than Davis.

As a refresher, California's Megan's Law provides the public with certain information on the whereabouts of sex offenders so that members of our local communities may protect themselves and their children. Megan's Law is named after seven year-old Megan Kanka, a New Jersey girl who was raped and killed by a known child molester who had moved across the street from the family without their knowledge.

The site will provide you with access to information on more than 63,000 persons required to register in California as sex offenders. Specific home addresses are displayed on more than 33,500 offenders in the California communities; as to these persons, the site displays the last registered address reported by the offender. An additional 30,500 offenders are included on the site with listing by ZIP Code, city, and county. Information on approximately 22,000 other offenders is not included on this site, but is known to law enforcement personnel.

The website indicates that many of the registrants are currently in violation of their registration requirements.

Click the title of this story to access the Megan's Law sex offender Web site.

Candidate Harris releases ballot statement

The following is the ballot statement from Woodland City Council candidate Bobby Harris:

Bobby Harris
Age: 56
Occupation: Legislative Advocate

As city council member, I will work to:

Create program with county / state to transform the fairgrounds parcel (~ 2 million square feet) into an updated model of affordable home ownership, featuring 600 - 1300 square foot dwellings with reasonable lots using reduced infrastructure, with a goal of producing homes for less than $100,000, thereby bringing variously beneficial in-fill housing into Woodland's core area (such action would serve to revitalize the mall, expand Yolobus ridership and promote downtown redevelopment);

Establish municipal housing committee focusing on improved housing options throughout the city;

Re-invigorate downtown redevelopment program (one-way Main and Court Streets from Sixth to Cleveland; diagonal parking, 4-way stop signs and 15 mph on Main Street; event promotion banners across Main and Court Streets; successful downtown business association; redevelopment incentives and zoning to achieve goals; promotion of regular arts and community events; improved entertainment options);

Establish community advisory committee on public safety and police;

Create new Latino cultural festival: Mexican Independence Day (Sept. 16, 1810);

Establish municipal climate-change, carbon reduction program;

Create public forum for comments / questions on the municipal website, to assist in generating discussion of city affairs and council agenda items;

Enhance capabilities of city library, television station.

Much ado about mayor

There's lots of talk about being mayor in these first couple of blogs about city council candidates. What's the big whoop about being mayor, anyway? This is not Gotham City. There's no access to the Bat Signal button. One "honor" I see is that the mayor gets to time people when they address council... "You have three minutes."

The following is the sum total of the duties of mayor for the City of Woodland:

Sec. 2-2-2. Duties of mayor.

The mayor shall perform those duties required by law or which, consistent with the office, the mayor voluntarily assumes within the limitations of the law and the limitations imposed by the council. (Ord. No. 935, § 2 (part); Ord. No. 1197, § 2 (part); Ord. No. 1317, § 2 (part).) [Click the title of this story for the ordinance.]

What about this for a conversation starter: Do you think Woodland would be better off with an executive form of a mayor-council government as opposed to the current council-city manager form? A mayor-council government (strong-mayor form) consists of an elected executive (mayor) that could be more responsive to voters since the paid position would be in check by citizens. If the city is not run according to popular review, then a new executive is voted in... just like in most major cities.

What do you think?

Friday, March 14, 2008

Candidate Pimentel posts ballot statement on Web site

The following is from Art Pimentel's Web site:

Ballot Statement

Art Pimentel
Age: 28
College Spokesperson/ Councilman

As a life long Woodland resident I care deeply about this community and its values. For the last four years it has been an honor serving Woodland as a councilman. I’ve worked closely with local business leaders, educational leaders, and other community members seeking not only to make Woodland a better place now but also to create a vision for the future. My record as a councilman shows my strong support to increase the number of safety officers, to complete the Woodland Community and Senior Center, as well as my efforts to create economic opportunities. In addition, I’ve been a proponent of smart growth that preserves the integrity and history of our city.

In the coming years it’s imperative that we continue working together to solve the challenges facing Woodland. Fiscal accountability, economic development, and safety will remain my top priorities. I also pledge to continue advancing sound policies that will bring good jobs to Woodland, expand downtown investment, create quality neighborhoods, and encourage investment in our youth and senior services.

For additional information regarding my candidacy please visit Vote for real leadership rooted in Woodland values. Vote Pimentel on June 3rd.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Candidate Monroe announces campaign kick-off

Jeff Monroe has announced his City Council"Campaign Kick-Off" at the past residence of former Yolo County Sheriff Forrest Monroe. Nancy Tinsley will host the event in the historic house at 712 Second Street. There will be wine, cheese, coffee and treats. Here are the details:

Friday, March 14, 5 to 8 pm
712 Second Street, Woodland
$20 per person at the door

News from the alley: Heaton hangs self at Post Office

The old downtown was abuzz yesterday after the body of 52 year-old Woodland resident Duane Paul Heaton was found on the east side of the Woodland Post Office. Heaton was found hanging from the rails of the basement stairwell, adjacent to the parking lot bounded by Dead Cat Alley, Court and Third.

Early reports assume a suicide. This would not be the first suicide victim found along alley. In the early 1940s a young Jack Din, who lived on the alley, came upon a crime scene behind the old boarding rooms at 666 Dead Cat Alley. That victim had apparently jumped or fell from the second floor of the building now occupied by Ludy's Main Street BBQ and Catering.

For the article in the Daily Demopalm, click the title of this story.

City Council race: Fred Lopez in, Anna Del Castillo out

Fred Lopez has entered the race for Woodland City Council according to Also according to the Yolo County Supervisor's blog, Anna Del Castillo has decided not to run for the three open seats.

The six candidates are:

Art Pimentel
Jeff Monroe
Martie Dote
Frank Sieferman, Jr.
Bobby Harris
Fred Lopez

Click the title of this story to access Matt Rexroad's site.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

DeWall gift of $25,000 designated for Yolo County Library

Mary Stephens DeWall and Lester DeWall have given $25,000 to the fund they inaugurated in 2006. The Yolo County Library Staff Enrichment Fund was established to support enrichment programs for employee training. Mary served as Yolo County Librarian from 1969 to 2006. The Davis Branch Library is named the “Mary L. Stephens Branch” in recognition of her many contributions.

Mary began her professional library career in Yolo County in 1969 as Yolo County Librarian and had served in that capacity continuously until her retirement. At the time, she was the longest tenured County Librarian in the history of Yolo County and in the State of California, as well as the longest tenured department head in Yolo County.

Mary's service to Yolo County libraries actually began in 1956 when she was employed as a library page which continued during each consecutive summer until 1962.

Born to a pioneer Yolo County family and raised in Esparto, Mary received a Bachelor of Arts degree in history from Occidental College in 1962 and a Masters of Library Science from U.C. Berkeley in 1963. She initially worked as a serials cataloger and bibliographer at the U.C. Davis Shields Library and as a reference librarian for statewide research at the UC Berkeley Water Resources Center Archives. She returned to Yolo County as County Librarian upon her appointment by Norma E. Hallam as Acting County Librarian in 1969.

Mary was the recipient of a number of awards and recognitions. She received the 1994 "Outstanding Public Administrator Award" from the American Society for Public Administration, and in 1997 she was awarded the "Yolo County Managers’ Manager Award." In 2004, the California State Legislature named her "Woman of the Year" - and most recently she received the California Association of Library Trustees and Commissioners’ "Librarian for Outstanding Work with a Board of Trustees or Commission Award."

Mary is now president of the Yolo Community Foundation, the organization handling the designated gift. She joined the foundation in January for her first volunteer commitment following her retirement. In the related press release she stated, “I am passionate about Yolo County and support a permanent endowment for its people.”

To learn more about Mary Stephens DeWall and the Yolo County Library, click the title of this story.

Today's Daily Demoham especially blunderful

The Wednesday, March 12, 2008, edition of our local paper is sporting a new masthead in honor of Easter ham. The front page title piece features a stock photo of sliced ham covering the last four letters of its name.

If that weren't enough, readers would almost think the school board gave up on the idea of purchasing 435 Sixth Street if they believed the headline "District opts to lease Blue Shield building." You won't find the true intent of the board until you go to the jump page and see the "lease/purchase" directive mentioned once.

And perhaps you saw the other headline boner "Planners refine W. Sac project." The article actually has to do with the redevelopment of the Old Sugar Mill site in... CLARKSBURG.

Don't leave yet... you gotta love the editorial entitled "Let's wait to see what happens with DA's Office," followed by the subhead "Let's wait and see what an investigation reveals before jumping to any judgments about charges against DA." Wasn't it just yesterday when I saw the front page, top story headline "DA accused of ethics breach." I guess it's all worth it since the Demoham finally attributed their story to a blog... and actually credited it by name, The People's Vanguard of Davis.

You won't see the Demoham graphic, but you can see the W. Sac blunder in the online version - all spelled out - by clicking the title of this story. (Hope you catch it before they fix it)

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

More on the school board: Foursome is scolded

More details have surfaced about last night's closed session maneuvering by the Woodland Joint Unified School District's board of trustees. In what was downplayed in today's Daily Democrat, the sole purpose of the meeting was to work around potential litigation to salvage the future purchase of the Blue Shield building.

Voting in favor of the lease-purchase plan was the steadfast foursome of Carol Souza Cole, Bill Beermann, Rosario Ruiz-Dark and Elaine Lytle. Those who opposed the plan were trustees Warren Berg and Rogelio Villagrana. Frank Glover, who voted against the purchase with Villagrana and Berg in December, was absent.

Upon emerging from the closed session, superintendent Jacki Cottingim commented on the sudden change of the purchase agreement. She indicated to the small crowd that the district is unable to get investors for the bonds (Certificates of Participation) because the current Yolo County Grand Jury investigation must be disclosed to potential investors.

The Grand Jury has responded to a complaint about alleged improprieties surrounding the purchase of the building. Cottingim suggested that she and the trustees do not know why, or what, the investigation is about. She also indicated that the Grand Jury has refused to tell her the purpose of the investigation.

Details of the lease-purchase agreement were not made public, and apparently, at least two of the trustees were not provided adequate information.

Rogelio Villagrana, with pragmatic sensibility, indicated that he could not vote on the new agreement without the information needed to make a decision.

The other opponent of the lease-purchase agreement, Warren Berg, reprimanded the four assenting trustees. Reportedly he stated, "I am disgusted and outraged at the process of this decision."

For the Daily Democrat's take on the meeting, click the title of this story.

Cesar Chavez Memorial Dinner on March 27

This just in from the Latino Community Council:


Thursday, March 27
La Finca Restaurant
535 Bush Street

6:00 p.m.—7:30 p.m.
$15.00 per person
Includes Mexican Buffet/Drink

Presentation by: JOSE MONTOYA

Payable to: “LCC”
1611 Ashley Ave.
Woodland, CA 95695

RSVP by March 21: 530-666-6172

Trustees wriggle around litigation, choose lease-purchase in pursuit of Blue Shield building

During last night's closed session WJUSD School Board meeting, trustees finagled a lease-purchase agreement that offsets the inability to sell Certificates of Participation. The demise of the COPs was brought on by the ongoing Grand Jury investigation, but details were not available at the time of this post.

It wasn't until after the three and a half closed session meeting that a few citizens and Grand Jury members learned of the twist in the purchase of the Blue Shield building to house administrative offices. It was not disclosed what the lease terms are, or the eventual purchase terms.

What is clear, however, is the recall effort will proceed since the district is still intent on purchasing the building. Papers for the recall may begin circulating this Friday - the day marking the 90-day period since two of the trustees subject to the recall took office.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Yes on Prop. 98 wins in court, eminent domain reform could hit home

I received an email on Friday asking me to forward the following message to ten of my friends. I usually don't indulge in those requests, but this one about Proposition 98 may relate to a couple of downtown projects.

# # #

Yes Prop. 98 Wins in Court

Court finds No Merit to Opposition Arguments and Confirms that Primary Purpose of Proposition 98 is Eminent Domain Reform

Proponents of Proposition 98 won a major court victory for California property owners [March 7]. The Honorable Timothy Frawley of the Superior Court of California rejected a lawsuit by a coalition of politicians and developers against the State of California contending that Proposition 98's ballot title and summary is misleading. The court ruled with the State that the "chief" purpose of Prop. 98 is to reform eminent domain abuse.

"The court rejected the attempt by opponents of Proposition 98 to characterize the initiative as merely a 'rent control' measure. Finding their claims to be 'without merit,' the court went on to hold that the 'chief' purpose of this measure is to constrain government's authority to take property by eminent domain. It naturally follows that much of the statement of the measure's purpose should relate to eminent domain," said Prop. 98 legal counsel Thomas W. Hiltachk.

"The judge also rejected the attempt to by opponents to include a false claim that Proposition 98 would have 'far reaching' impacts on land use regulations, finding their arguments to be unpersuasive," said Hiltachk. "Interestingly, opponents of Proposition 98 did not attempt to assert the prior false claims they have made publicly regarding water storage and conveyance projects."

# # #

From the Yes on Prop 98 Web site (click the title of this story to access):

YES ON PROP 98: Protect All Property Rights.

Right now, government has the right to take private property - our homes, family farms, mom-and-pop small businesses - to build a sports stadium, big-box chain store, or a hotel. Politically connected special interests use and abuse government's power take and develop private property. 41 other states have enacted property rights reforms.

It is time for Californians to protect our property and restore our private property rights. Proposition 98, the California Property Owners & Farmland Protection Act is on the ballot in June. Property seizures are happening all over our state, it is time to take action against the government's abuse of power.

Yes on Prop. 98, Californians for Property Rights Protection, a project of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association with funding by its No New Taxes Committee and the California Farm Bureau Federation and supported by the California Alliance to Protect Private Property Rights. FPPC ID # 1296303.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Special closed session board meeting on Monday

There is a regularly scheduled Woodland Joint Unified School District Board of Trustees meeting on Thursday, March 13. This meeting should be of interest to the community since the close of escrow of the Blue Shield building is near, as is the launch of a recall effort against the four trustees who approved its purchase.

If the anticipation of that meeting wasn't enough... this afternoon an anonymous blogger posted the following announcement under an unrelated story:

MONDAY, MARCH 10, 2008
5:30 P.M.

1. Pledge of Allegiance


Recess and Reconvene in Closed Session (Spring Lake Room):
1. Conference with Real Property Negotiator Scott Sheldon and Legal Counsel from Miller, Brown & Dannis, Pursuant to Govt. Code 54956.8: Negotiations With Blue Ice, LLC Regarding Price and/or Terms of Payment for the Property Located at 435 Sixth Street, Woodland, CA (Parcel #006-122-07)
2. Conference with Legal Counsel from Miller, Brown & Dannis, Anticipated Litigation: Significant Exposure to Litigation Pursuant to Govt. Code Section 54956.9(b): One (1) Case

1. Announcement of any action taken in Closed Session (if applicable)


PLEASE NOTE: I tried searching the Internet for the announcement (including and - since it should be in compliance with Brown Act regulations - and could not find it. However, I have confirmed its validity by other means.

Happy Birthday Woodland Journal: Firefighter issues spark local blog

On THURSDAY, MARCH 08, 2007, The Realist posted The Woodland Journal's first story. Here's how it started:

# # #
Why do the firefighters want more money?

I see the firefighters out picketing City Hall, trying to muster some support with signs such as "just asking for average pay". What do they want the public to do? I would love to have the firefighters make more money, as much as NBA players, but that is not reality.
# # #

You can click the title of this story to access the premiere blog. The firefighter pay issue proved to be an exciting topic, generating 23 comments on the first go. Follow-up stories included:

Firefighter Response, 5 comments, 3/9/07
FireFighters Compensation: By the Numbers, 33 comments, 3/12/07
WRG to hold Firefighter Forum, 6 comments, 3/14/07
Firefighter letter to the editor, 53 comments, 3/17/07
Firefighters turn up the Heat, 53 comments, 3/20/07
Firefighters: My Final Thoughts, 14 comments, 3/30/07
Firefighters Reject City Offer, 98 comments, 4/4/07
Firefighter Question?, 57 comments, 4/8/07
Firefighters Have Ratified Contract Offer, 22 comments, 6/8/07
Ads On Fire Trucks, 28 comments, 6/11/07
Firefighters Host July 4th Pancake Breakfast, 29 comments, 6/26/07

The Realist began his hiatus on July 9, 2007, and will be returning in April (or soon after). Story posting will continue to be shared.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

There's a rat in the chamber

Anna Del Castillo, potential candidate for Woodland City Council, wrote a letter to the editor that was published in the Daily Democrat yesterday (click the title of this story to access). The letter revealed that a recent and private vote of the Woodland Chamber of Commerce board was compromised by one of its directors.

Del Castillo said, "As a board member of the Woodland Chamber of Commerce, I recently voted on the Woodland Chamber of Commerce's support of the Clark Pacific project. This vote was held in a private meeting and was conducted on private ballots. Within less than 60 minutes after voting, my vote was made public on the Woodland Journal and Matt Rexroad's blog - by an anonymous (cowardly) entry."

On February 28 at 5:29, an anonymous Woodland Journal commenter said, "Multiple people are saying that Anna was the sole vote against Clark Pacific today at the Chamber of Commerce."

This apparently lead to a posting on

Although comfortable with her vote based on her own research and reasoning, Del Castillo was bothered by the lack of integrity of the board. The vote, she said, "... was put forth in a private meeting and only one person saw those ballots."

In a follow-up comment posted on The Woodland Journal, Del Castillo stated, "The issue here is not my vote, it is integrity. As you can see by my letter, I have no problem speaking for myself and the opportunity to do so in regards to my vote should have been mine, not somebody elses and not done sneakily."

It is still unknown who the chamber informant, or informants, are. The identity of the anonymous blogger also remains unknown, as is the relationship of the blogger to the chamber rat (or rats).

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Dubach Park: Going, going, gone... but council to decide when during tonight's meeting


Demolition of Dubach Park Facilities

The maintenance and operation of Dubach Park has been a fiscal challenge for the City of Woodland for quite some time. With Phase II of the Sports Park nearing completion, Dubach Park will not need to remain in operation to meet community recreation needs. However, Dubach Park will remain a drain on City resources and a public nuisance until the facility is demolished.

Public Works plans to include the site in its Storm Drainage Facilities Master Plan (SDFMP) and planned to include the demolition in the 2008/2009 Capital Budget. However, delaying the demolition will result in additional City costs at more than $9,000 per month. Because delaying the demolition will cost the General Fund up to $45,000, staff believes it is appropriate to complete the demolition ahead of schedule.

Staff recommends that the City Council approve the Mid Year addition of the Dubach Park Demolition to the FY 2007-08 Capital Budget at an estimated cost of $99,000 based on the Project Programming Summary Sheet.


The City Council has approved the closure of Dubach Park and has directed staff to expedite the completion of Phase II of the Sports Park in order to address community recreation needs that would be unmet by the closure. On December 18, the City Council awarded the bid for the Phase II work to Gold Valley Construction. This work will provide additional all weather soccer and baseball fields, bike and pedestrian paths and other amenities that will effectively replace the Dubach Park facilities.

Work on Phase II commenced last month and completion is expected in December. For the spring/summer season, Parks & Recreation staff is utilizing other fields, including Harris Park and the existing synthetic field to accommodate adult sports use. The programming and operational need for Dubach Park effectively ceased with the completion of the fall softball program in November 2007.

With the completion of the fall season, award of the Sports Park Phase II contract and work progressing on the project in an acceptable manner, staff concluded that the demolition of Dubach Park could be moved up from the original date in July/August 2008. Leaving the facility in a fallow state would generate an attractive nuisance that would represent a liability. In addition, the site would still require active maintenance, including dewatering of up to 1,000 gallons daily at a cost of $9,000 per month. Delaying the demolition by five months would cost the City’s General Fund up to $45,000 with no associated public benefit.

Demolition of Dubach Park also provides an additional benefit to the City’s storm drain program. Elimination of pumped groundwater from the site will reduce maintenance in the storm drainage system by removing water and reducing vegetation in the concrete channels on Kentucky Avenue and eliminate the need for a Waste Discharge Permit from the site.


The 2007/2008 Capital budget did not include the demolition of Dubach Park because the plan had been to run Dubach Park through the Spring Baseball Season with the abandonment of the Park scheduled in July of 2008. The decision to stop using Dubach Park now because of the anticipated completion of Phase II of the Sports Park represents an opportunity to reduce General Fund and Storm Drain Fund expenses. The actual cost for the demolition will be funded by available Development Impact Fees that would have been used in the future. The change of use from a softball field to a feature in the SDFMP will reduce present costs for power, and storm drain maintenance. The reduction in future facilities costs could be shared with the Park and Recreation Department in an equitable manner when the funds are available.

The proposed project will remove all buildings, fencing, concrete and asphalt. The dewatering system will not be removed; however, the demolition will enable the system to not be used except under certain conditions associated with storm drain management, such as to control exceptional water flows.

Fiscal Impact

The proposed project will generate an immediate $45,000 savings to the General Fund that would otherwise be expended to dewater the facility, a task that is necessary even if the site was to remain fallow if the City waited until July or August, the original date for the demolition. In addition, the proposed project would reduce future costs to the Storm Drain Facilities Master Plan by approximately $750,000. Project costs of $99,000 would be funded by available Development Impact Fees.


City math

Assuming the $9,000 per month figure to de-water Dubach Park is correct, it will take about 83 months (or almost seven years) to attain the $750,000 of cost reduction savings for storm drain facilities. That is also assuming that de-watering takes place every month - which it doesn't - and that it actually will have any significant impact on the storm drain system - which it won't. The cost analysis of de-watering for seven years is a ridiculous projection. Would the city actually continue de-watering efforts when there is no recreation going on there? No. The need for de-watering is over since recreational activities will now be at the new complex.

The savings of not maintaining an abandoned, "fallow," Dubach Park will be (or should be) applied to the maintenance and operations of the new sports park facilities - where Dubach's recreational activities will now take place. But what are the real costs? If the city is self-insured, there is no liability insurance costs. Maybe there is some minor maintenance costs... but nowhere in the range of $9,000 a month.

Although I see the reasons for demolishing the old, hallowed softball grounds, I also see another "apples and oranges" justification of costs. The demolition is estimated to be almost $100,000 - let's compare that to the true costs of just keeping vandals and vagrants out of the Dubach Hole.

Clark Pacific makes news across the river

In today's Sacramento Bee, Lakiesha McGhee reported on the rural location of the Clark Pacific precast concrete company. The article called "Yolo to decide if concrete business is a sweet fit for former sugar plant" can be accessed by clicking the title of this story.

Here are the highlights from the report:

Donald G. Clark looks at the former Spreckels sugar factory in Yolo County and imagines his family's bustling concrete design and manufacturing business at home in the old warehouse.

"There are very few sites around of this size," Clark said during a tour of the 246-acre property that he purchased last month.

"This clearly does not support agriculture," said Brenda Cedarblade, owner of the Historic Nelson Ranch and Cattle Co. next to the Spreckels site.

"I don't mind Clark Pacific only on the 90-acre parcel but I don't want a huge industrial development out there," said Supervisor Duane Chamberlain, who said he didn't want to encourage an industrial complex near prime farmland.

Supervisor Matt Rexroad, a former mayor of Woodland, said potential problems can be fixed and that the project can be financially good for Woodland. The City Council supported the project.

"I think everyone would prefer that we put some kind of agriculture use out there but we haven't been able to put anything out there for several years," Rexroad said.

An order was issued in 2003 by the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control board to remove deposits of calcium carbonate at Spreckels resulting from years of sugar processing. The site is also being monitored for groundwater quality. Clark said his project would continue the cleanup of the property.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Yolo County 101 course registration begins tomorrow

Yolo County Supervisor Matt Rexroad has just announced the following at

Yolo County 101 Adjunct Sessions Begin April 2

Last fall, 80 people enrolled in Yolo County 101, a nine week seminar course about our county government—its services and processes. Yolo County 101 was so successful that we will continue with four additional sessions on various topics that could not be covered in-depth in the original course.

The first session is April 2 with Mat Ehrhardt, Executive Director of the Yolo –Solano Air quality Management District.

Registration begins March 4. Seating is limited so register early!

Date: April 2, 2008
Time: 6 to 7:30 pm
Location: Yolo County Administration Building, 625 Court Street, Woodland, Atrium Training Room - BO2

For more information or to register, please contact Dotty Huber at the 3rd District County office: (530) 666-8230 or email

Is the East Gum/Bourn roundabout effective?

Before you consider the effectiveness of the retrofitted mini-roundabout at the intersection of East Gum Avenue and Bourn Drive, you may need a primer on what a roundabout is and what it's supposed to provide.

A roundabout is a circular intersection similar to a traffic circle. The major differences between a roundabout and a traffic circle are:

Yield at Entry - At roundabouts the entering traffic yields the right-of-way to the circulating traffic. This yield-at-entry rule prevents traffic from locking-up and allows free flow movement.
Deflection - The entry and center island of a roundabout deflects entering traffic to slow traffic and reinforce the yielding process.
Flare - The entry to a roundabout often flares out from one or two lanes to two or three lanes at the yield line to provide increased capacity.

There are two basic types of roundabouts:

Conventional roundabout - A one-way circular roadway around a curbed central island for circulating traffic, usually with flared approaches to allow multiple vehicle entry.
Mini-roundabout - A one-way circular roadway around a flush or slightly raised central island of up to 13 feet in diameter, usually without flared entries. The East Gum/Bourn intersection does not have flared entries. Click on the title of this story to see a diagram.

Traffic circles allow many vehicles, often in multiple lanes, within the rotary at once.

Here are the reasons to use a roundabout according to RoundaboutsUSA:

Safety - Roundabouts have been shown to reduce fatal and injury accidents.
Pedestrian Safety - All research suggests that modern roundabouts are safer than signalized intersections.
Low Maintenance - Eliminates maintenance and electricity costs associated with traffic signals
Reduced Delay - By yielding at the entry, rather than stopping and waiting for a green light.
Capacity - High volume left turns are better handled by a roundabout than a multi-phased traffic signal.
Aesthetics - The central island provides an opportunity to provide landscaping.

Roundabouts have been shown to reduce fatal and injury accidents as much as 76% in the USA, 75% in Australia and 86% in Great Britain. The reduction in accidents is attributed to slower speeds and reduced number of conflict points (regular intersections have 32 vehicle contact points and 24 pedestrian contact points, roundabouts have eight and eight).

Also, pedestrian safety in roundabouts has been attributed to the slower traffic speed and the division of the pedestrian crossing into two stages, from the near-side wheelchair ramp out to the splitter island, and then from the splitter island to the far-side wheelchair ramp. In each stage the pedestrian has to look in only one direction to cross a one-way traffic stream. Pedestrian refuges are provided in the areas within the splitter islands.

When cities discuss replacing intersections with roundabouts, there exists the possibility of being confronted by disability activists who claim roundabouts are inaccessible to disabled people. Without signal lights to control traffic, they say, blind pedestrians and people in wheelchairs must wait for a gap in traffic before attempting to cross the street. Since the East Gum/Bourn roundabout has been retrofitted from its former life as a regular intersection, some concerns (including the accessibility issue) may need to be discussed when considering the roundabout's effectiveness.

The City of Woodland does have pertinent information on its Web site:


Any Vehicle that is already in the roundabout has the right-of-way, as opposed to vehicles that are approaching the roundabout.

Traffic approaching the roundabout from any direction will enter the roundabout in a yield condition. This means that when arriving at the yield sign, the driver yields the right-of-way to any vehicles already in the roundabout.

When it is safe to enter the roundabout, vehicles proceed to the right (counter-clockwise) and exit at the appropriate street, If there are no vehicles in the roundabout, or if there are vehicles on the other side that provide a sufficient gap to enter, drivers may enter without stopping.

Even if heading to the left, you still enter the roundabout to the right and follow it around the center island until you reach your exit point. Under no circumstances do you attempt to go left.

The roundabout at the East Gum Avenue and Bourn Drive intersection has been designed for a speed of 15 miles per hour. Although it may seem slow, you should be able to enter and exit the roundabout with a minimal delay.

This speed is beneficial in that you will be interacting with bicyclists (who will be traveling at slower speeds in the roundabout) and with pedestrians.

For more information visit RoundaboutsUSA.